Farmers keen to cash in on moisture in soil

Late southwest monsoon rain has reduced the gap in kharif sowing, but farmers — who did not sow even short-duration crops when rainfall was delayed — are now going in for early sowing of rabi crop. They will sow by September 15 rather than October 15 to take advantage of the moisture in the soil, official sources told The Hindu.

Shortfall in sowing of coarse cereals and pulses, however, will remain as the kharif season comes to a close for oilseeds, cotton and sugarcane.

Even as the average rainfall deficiency has come down to 13 per cent, there are estimates that because of the delayed monsoon, the overall production, especially of coarse cereals, may drop by about three million tonnes this kharif.

Central teams have visited Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat to study the situation arising out of unsown or late-sown crops. Rajasthan says some of its districts are still rain-deficient. As per data released by the Agriculture Ministry, the overall sowing in kharif is lower by 6.61 lakh hectares compared to a normal year (average of five years). However, when compared to last year — which was a record year — total sowing this kharif is lower by 60.90 lakh hectares with shortfall in rice, coarse cereals, pulses, oilseeds and cotton. The Ministry is going by comparisons with a normal year.

Compared to normal year, paddy sowing is higher by 15.25 lakh hectares. Late kharif paddy will be cultivated in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka and Maharashtra. As such, no loss of rice production is estimated due to delayed monsoon.

Sowing of kharif coarse cereals is lower by 28.90 lakh hectares owing to shortfall in cultivation in Rajasthan, where the rains came too late. Instead of delayed sowing of short-duration crops that will be ready for harvest by December, farmers will go in for early sowing of rabi pulses and oilseeds, official sources said. This would help these two crops in the rabi season.

The area under pulses is lower by 3.61 lakh hectares compared to a normal year. Parts of central Maharashtra and Marathwada did not receive adequate rain in the last three weeks affecting the standing crop. In this region, the standing groundnut crop has come under stress.

The area under oilseeds has declined by 1.21 lakh hectares due to unsown groundnut in Gujarat and the sown oilseeds coming under stress in parts of Andhra Pradesh.

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